We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, and We’re Not Going Back

Its time to wake up and get moving again, in a new and better direction.

Much was made of the stock market rally this week, with the Dow bouncing up 9%, and other economic news emerging that was viewed as positive. Having a little good news is refreshing, to be sure, even if the good news is really just news that wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be. It seems some of the big banks are not as bad off as we thought they were, although their problems are still immense, and the credit rating of GE only got knocked down a single notch instead of sinking further.


I’ve even heard from a few green entrepreneurs I’ve talked with lately that their business is starting to pick up already, probably in response to the approval of the stimulus and knowledge that financial support is on its way to help move renewable energy projects and other businesses forward. That’s very good news indeed.

Entrepreneurs of many backgrounds, green or not, are taking matters into their own hands to start new businesses doing things like making jellyfish tanks with whatever resources they can, often out of necessity for those who have found themselves unemployed.

Many businesses though seem to be frozen still, hunkered down, waiting for the storm to pass and for things to go back to the way they were. If only they can close their eyes, and click their heels, they will wake up from this bad dream back in Kansas, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I sure wish those flying monkeys, the banks, the stock market, credit crisis, and plunging home values, would all vamoose and leave me in peace.

I understand where they’re coming from, but they are missing an opportunity. Hunkering down, trying to spend no money, does not develop your business. We’re not clicking our heels out of this one, and spending no money gets nothing done. It also fails to take you in a new direction, and a new direction is needed.

As things do get moving again, I think it’s likely we will emerge from our current crisis in a different place than where we entered. The New York Times wrote recently that “Job Losses Hint at Vast Remaking of Economy”. There is something big happening here, with large chunks of the economy changing right before our eyes. It’s best if we have our eyes open. You’re business needs to be busy finding where that new direction is and get moving in that direction.

Personally, I think that green is going to be a big part of the new business reality. The government is creating unprecedented incentives for renewable energy, and energy efficiency, and more is probably on the way as the government starts to talk seriously about taking on climate change. All of those consumers out there won’t be returning to their old spending any time soon, even as the economy starts to improve. With asset values down, and weighed down by debt, look for a great number of consumers to start acting instead like “conservers”, saving money and thinking of the long term. There are opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs in the new “conserver economy”, finding ways to help people waste less, repair old things, share goods and services, and reuse material, for example.


So, maybe we’re not going back to Kansas. But that’s okay. Open your eyes. Let’s find a new destination and get started in that direction instead.

About the author

Glenn Croston is the author of "75 Green Businesses" and "Starting Green", and the founder of Starting Up Green, helping green businesses to get started and grow.